Doubts cast on Agri dept’s 1% farm growth estimate

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THE agriculture sector’s growth for 2018 could have been flat — or worse than the 1% estimate given by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, an economist said.

“Likely flat,” University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Center for Food and Agribusiness Executive Director Rolando T. Dy said in a mobile message when asked for his estimate for agricultural growth in 2018.

Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post that the agriculture sector grew by 1% in 2018, citing data viewed by the DA’s management committee (MANCOM).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has yet to release the official result, which typically comes out days prior to publishing the gross domestic product (GDP) performance for 2018.

“Almost flat [in the] first three quarters. Fourth quarter won’t have a significant recovery,” Mr. Dy added.

The PSA reported last year that agriculture sector which include crops, poultry, livestock and fisheries, grew by only 0.15% in the nine months to September.

Mr. Piñol said that DA intends to end the year with 2.5% growth, a rate which Mr. Dy said, is likely unachievable. Last week, Mr. Piñol said that the failure to achieve the target growth was due to typhoons and weather disturbances that plagued the country in 2018.

Mr. Piñol said rice production in 2018 amounted to 19.1 million metric tons (MT), or 1.54% short of the 19.4 million MT target. It also failed to match the 2017 total of 19.28 million MT by 170,000 MT.

“Philippine agriculture and fisheries hobbled with a mere 1% growth in 2018 as a super typhoon and 12 more tropical storms battered the country almost every month of the year destroying 1.8 million metric tons of crops with an estimated value of P36 billion,” Mr. Piñol said in his post. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio